To read part 1 of this feature, click here.Part II, cont'd
11) Never make the mistake of interviewing with parents just after the birth of their first child. Perhaps they are just too happy. Maybe it is the ecstasy of being a new parent, maybe it is C section drugs. I don’t know but I definitely got a wrong read on the parents, especially the mother. My third nanny job I got and was able to show lots of good references. I was to take care of just one baby. This would be a cakewalk for me because one child didn't compare to the 4 I had at my last job. The mom didn't want me to start much earlier than when she went back to work because she wanted her bonding time. I came 4 hours a week until she went back to work. 4 hours a week I spent barely taking care of the child but more helping her with errands. This was not a problem since they were paying my full salary. Yes they were generous. I can say that they were easily very generous. The baby was beautiful. He wasn't a crier either. Just a real good baby. And so my job started. Mom called alot. Warning sign #1. When I say a lot, I mean about twice every 3 hours. Mom also provided me a cell phone. She asked me to send her pictured of the baby at least 2x day. Okay I could do that. Mom had asked me originally to jot down notes of the baby's day so she would know when he had his last bottle or what. That seemed pretty reasonable. Within a week, Mom who now starts to show herself as a total corporate micromanager type was grating on my nerves. The child was to be dressed in a certain outfit. Even though the baby was still sleeping when she left for work. So not only was I told what to dress the child in on a particular day, but she called to confirm the child was dressed in that outfit! I was to record what time the baby woke up. Ok. And what was in the baby's diaper. And how much the baby ate at every feeding. For example, 12:15 PM, 4 ounces made, 3 1/2 ounces consumed. Sound like enough? No. Then she thought it might be helpful if I recorded how many "burps" I got. I was also supposed to record the # of bowel movements the baby had. Not just how many, but the size and consistency of them. Do you see where this is going? Mom and Dad had went out of their way to hire an experienced nanny and for what? Mom scheduled the baby's entire day. Feeding I understand, napping even. But suggested activities. She even scheduled suggested times for me to make my personal phone calls or take a break. She suggested songs I should sing to the child while feeding him and then songs I should sing to the child while rocking him to sleep! Only an idiot would need this kind of direction. I was getting nothing out of the job. A monkey could have done it. So I gave notice. The parents freaked out. They threatened to sue me for breach of contract and called me a "corrupt individual". Comment
12) Nanny B here, a frequent blogger. I have my own horror story that I think will beat them all out of the park.......
My first nanny position was in Maryland where I worked for a married couple with 4 boys. Mom worked alot and dad was in the military overseas. After 2 months of working there, mom started dating not 1 but 2 different men. On several occasions she would have one guy sleep over one night and the other guy sleep over the next night. What made it worse is that my room was next to hers and I could hear all the awful things being done (sex isn't awful but when your trying to sleep it is). It got to the point when mom wasn't even coming home anymore and I found out she had rented out her own place somewhere else and started moving her stuff there. The highlight came one day when one of the boyfriends ran over the dog and killed it and she left me there to explain to these 4 boys what had happened to their dog and then called me up later to ask me if I could call boyfriend #2 and find out where he was so she could take boyfriend #1 to a restaurant. Dad ended up coming home about a month after all this took place but then I started feeling trapped in the house because he would take the car and be gone all week and I was left with the boys in the house until the weekend. The final straw came when they locked me in the house one night and took away the keys so I couldn't even get back in. I managed to have a friend of theirs come pick me up and get my stuff and I went to her place for a week until I could get on a bus and come home. It was horrible! Comment
13) My worst nanny job wasn't really all that bad. I moved from Texas to work in a suburb of NYC for a woman who had achieved a lot of fame & recognition in her "field" and her husband who worked in some sort of finance business. They had two children. The husband was one of those men that was just drop dead good looking. I doubt anyone could disagree with that. He was tall, built, with dark blonde hair and an easy smile. Probably the best looking man I have ever personally known. Having said that, he didn't act like he was the best looking man. He was quite down to earth, involved with his children, in love with his wife and always pleasant to me. The wife who was attractive, but not especially so was the problem. The nanny job was fine. What wasn't fine was that the mother would have a bad dream about her husband cheating on her or leaving or, or even after watching the movie Indecent Proposal and she would show upon my doorstep sobbing hysterically. I lived in a gate house on the property. The woman was very nearly inconsolable. I would have to talk her down and tell her how much he loved her and this happened probably once a month. Other times, when we were out to dinner even, and after learning about her issues, I could see her tense up anytime an especially attractive waitress was serving us. I was with the family for about 19 months and the woman told me all of her secrets and fears. What made this job so awful is that at a summer barbecue I attended with her, I met one of her old friends now living in Denver. After introducing me to her friend and telling her what a great nanny I was and what a great friend I had been to her, I thanked her and walked away. It was then I heard the mother, this friend I consoled so many nights say "X is the perfect nanny; no man would ever look twice at her". I don't know why I let it, but it hurt me to the core. I quit shortly after for no other reason then I fell out of the love with the job and the whole situation. Comment
14) I have worked for a nanny for about 10 families, all over the United States. I recently took a job for a family on the East Coast. This is an example of where nannies got to be as on guard of wrong first impressions as employers. The mom was very nice and all casual at the interview. But no. By day two, I realized this mom was seriously messed up. She was a thin woman who would go to the store about every day and buy up every junk snack you can think. Sugar cereals, Oreos, ice cream, canned cheese that sprays, and so much more. The mom would eat these things throughout the day. The children would eat them or even they asked for them and she would yell at them for eating junk and even call them "fat". I don't know if the mother actually knew what she was doing or even knew right from wrong. She would holler at her daughter to stop yelling at her. She would buzz around in a craze and then scream at her child to 'calm down'. She hollered all the time. She would have been a case study in "do as I say not as I do" but hell no way was I going to stick around. That surround gave me a headache. The rules changed every 3 minutes. The most at odds house I have ever been in. And it was cold too. I couldn't walk from one side to another without someone pulling me aside to whisper a warning in my ear about the next person. I didn't even last a full 3 weeks and in that time witnessed more f-d up sh-t than I have seen in all my years of being a nanny all across the country. And yet, you need a license to have a dog. Comment
15) My worst nanny job was also my induction in to the high life. I was flown out first class to meet with the child's mother at her office in New York City. I was picked up by her driver and escorted to her office. The interview went well and I was put up in a hotel at her expense for two days so that I could meet the entire family on Saturday. I met the entire family and all seemed great. I returned to Boston and was then phoned and offered the job at a very nice salary. I would be paid on the books and I would get health insurance, something at age 30 I felt I desperately needed. The salary I was making was literally $25 dollars more than I was making at my previous position. I moved to NY and moved in to a tiny apartment on the 9th floor of a building they occupied the penthouse of- which was the entire top floor. I was shocked that I would be living separate from the family because I was new to NY, didn't know anyone and it just felt very lonely. The apartment I was in had a tiny bathroom and a 10x 10 bedroom. Nothing more. I started the job and things seemed great. When I needed to take the children to the doctor or to school, I would be chauffeured by their driver. When they went on vacation, I would be put up in my own room at the same 5 star hotel as them. I would fly privately or first class. Everything was great for the first three months. And then the hours started to stretch and stretch. Instead of working 8-6, I gradually got to the point that I was working from 630-10 PM. I finally got up the gumption to ask to sit down and speak to them and I was referred to the father-not the mother. He summoned me to his office and I was completely intimidated. He knew very well what I was going to discuss. I started by telling them how much I liked the children and how well we got along and then I mentioned that the hours were just getting too long and I wasn't left with the chance for much of a life. I also mentioned that when I traveled with them, it often included weekends and I was not paid for those. He looked at me straight away and said, "You do realize you are making about $150,000.00 a year, don't you". I looked at him- no doubt puzzled. He said "Is that errrr. Not enough for you". I just stared. He then proceeded to break it down for me. My little hole of a NY apartment (granted at a prestigious address), he claimed was worth $2000.oo per month. Then he began to factor in electricity, my share of travel expenses (including my hotel rooms so that I could baby-sit his children), health insurance, GOURMET food, the cost of chauffeuring me around (!!!) and additionally my salary of $800 per week. I ended the meeting by saying that I "had never thought of it that way". I returned to work and continued being the best nanny that I could be but all the while kept my eye open for someone who would appreciate my time. As great as all of those things were, that was all on their watch. I hadn't even had a full weekend to explore NYC myself. I left two months later to work for a family that was nearly as well off but much more sensible. I make $750 a week now and if I have to work even an hour late, it is at a pre-agreed upon rate. Comment
16) My first full-time nanny position was as a live-in for a single mother with three small children. The mother seemed wonderful during the interview process. We agreed on a 50-hour work week with overtime for any extra hours. She told me there would rarely be overtime since she was also hiring a part-time weekend nanny who could also be available to give me some time off occasionally. There would be no housework required since she employed a housekeeper to come twice a week. The kids were sweet and I was excited about the job. As soon as I moved in, it became clear that she had misled me. She did not have a weekend nanny or a housekeeper. She never did any cleaning so I wound up doing it because the only alternative was to live in filth. She expected me to work around the clock. She would lock herself in her bedroom and refused to get up with the kids if they cried during the night. In the morning, she would refuse to come out of her room until we had left to take the oldest boy to preschool.No amount of knocking or begging from her children could induce her to come out. By the time we returned from the preschool run, she was gone. In the evening, she would call at bedtime to ask if they were asleep. If not, she would stay at work another half hour to ensure that they were asleep before she returned. She traveled frequently and spontaneously for work. She would often call and leave a message on the machine telling me that she was going out of state on businessAnd would be back in a week or so. She never gave me any contact information and refused to answer her cell phone when I called. The only time she saw them during the week was when she needed me to dress them up and bring them to her office so important clients could meet her children. Needless to say, these events were phony and rushed. I was expected to parade them around and get them out before they started crying or demanding attention. On the weekend, when I was supposed to be off duty, she would often sneak out. I wouldn't know she was leaving until I heard the garage door and saw her drive off. Since I was then home alone with the children, I had no choice but to be on duty even though she usually "forgot" to pay me for overtime. On two occasions, she sent us (me and the children) to the beach house to get us "out from underfoot" because she wanted to spend time at home entertaining and didn't wantus there. On those few occasions where she did spend time with her children, she had no patience for them and often begged me to "deal with them". If I would insist on a little quiet time during my off-duty hours, she would allow them children to bang on my door and cry for me until I came out. I stayed with this family for five months because I loved the children so much. During that time, I politely but firmly confronted the mother multiple times about the inconsistencies between my contract and reality -- the unpaid overtime, the housekeeping, etc. Every time, she apologized and promised to rectify the situation. But she never did. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. I was emotionally exhausted. I gave her a month's notice and promised to help her find a replacement. She flipped out and told me to get out immediately. I had nothing -- no home, no car, no insurance, nothing. Luckily I had a decent savings and good friends who allowed me to stay until I found a place of my own. I cried for months because I missed the children. I couldn't bring myself to look for another nannying position, so I went back to school full-time and finished my degree. I did eventually return to nannying, but I would never consider another live-in position. I work for an absolutely wonderful family now, and I appreciate them so much having seen how bad it could be. Comment
17) I took a job working in an upscale Colorado suburb for a family with four children. The mother was a hard worker who worked in the city in the medical profession. The father was in real estate and worked out of the home. This left him and I to spend a great deal of time together. The father liked to party. The oldest two children were in school full time and I was home with a baby and a three year old boy. The father would sometimes sleep until 4PM. I kid you not. The mother never knew this was going on! Of that I am sure. The father also had a creepy friend that came around. Aside from the sleeping and the drug use (very obvious) the father was actually a pretty decent Dad. There were times when he left coke out on a mirror, dollar bills rolled up and aluminum cans with holes punched in them and ashes strewn about but I collected all of the stuff and quietly just sat it on a top shelf. The worst part of this job was that I was never paid on time. Often my checks would bounce. When the father needed to buy a birthday gift for his wife that was the first time he borrowed one of my credit cards. He offered to pay me back 10 percent more within a week. And for the most part he did. All the time I was there, I never heard him arrange to show a home or describe a home to a client on the phone. I never even heard him on the phone with anyone except creditors! I don’t know how he got his cash (but I have an idea). I worked for them for 2 whole years. I was really close to the entire family and all of the children. When Christmas came, I went and spent two entire paychecks on those children. Yes, I overindulged. What bothered me was that one of the older children repeated to me a comment the father made about all of the gifts I had bought them for Christmas. He said “if she can afford to buy all of those gifts, we are paying her too damn much”. That hurt. Comment
18) When I came back to the tri-state area after moving home for a year I was scared about being able to find another nanny job. I basically took the first job I was offered without ever meeting the family. I was assured from the nanny agency that this was a very nice family. Upon arriving I found the couple to be nice enough. He was a trust fund baby who pretty much chilled out, hung out at the house with friends or went out. She was never home, coming by sporadically to drop the piles of guilt induced gifts into her daughters arms and then disappearing again. A lot of the times she did come home was when the husband wasn't and she was often accompanied by her boyfriend, a man who must have been at least 10 years her junior. According to her, she was helping him through some stuff. She never stayed long. Only long enough to send her three year old daughter into hysterics and then sneaking out the side door without even telling her daughter good bye. I was paid well for this but soon realized I was dealing with a very dysfunctional family and knew it was taking too much of a mental toll on myself. The daughter was a sad sight. 3 and 1/2 years old. Still slept in a crib. Sucked on a pacifier all day long. Did NOT sleep through the night as my baby monitor along with the two or three nightly trips to her room to try to soothe her can attest to. But that is an entirely different chapter in this story. I only worked there for 3 months. But in that time I was hit on by not only the wife's boyfriend, but also by the father. One night the wife had her young male friend over claiming it was his birthday. After sending me out to the liquor store to retrieve of bottle of something or other and insisting I have one drink with them, the wife disappeared into her bedroom. A minute or two later the boyfriend began asking me for a kiss for his birthday. I tried to play it off like he was kidding but when he leaned in and went for it I had to abruptly excuse myself and retire to my room for the rest of the night. Weird. Weirder still was when the husband began taking me and the daughter on all his excursions...shopping, lunch, to the harbor...even bullet shopping for the bullets he was planning to use to go hunt down his wife with. I spent a lot of my down time here escaping out almost every single night and drinking to escape my situation. Husband did not like this and always talked a lot of smack before I went out. A couple of times he asked me to just hang out there with him. One night in particular implied he wanted to hang out and get drunk with me. Not a MAJOR hit but still it was implied and plus the way he was turning my role into that of his substitute wife. Job finally ended when CPS came to interview all of us about reported drug use by parents. I was surprised because although I had seen a lot of messed up stuff I had never seen that. Didn't matter. They thought I turned them in anyway and we parted ways. Always wondered if that little girl turned out okay... Comment
19) Last May, I left the family I had been with for 2 years for what seemed to be my dream job. I was working only 30 hours a week, making great full-time money with no household duties and "on the job" use of a car. The family I joined had recently lost their mother to a long-term illness and it was a very sad, difficult situation but I looked forward to bonding with the children and helping establish the boundaries and personal attention that had been impossible with their mother's illness.
Almost immediately, I realized what a mistake I had made. My employer was a recovering alcoholic who enjoyed regaling me and his two children with his memories (or what memories he had left) of his binge drinking. He also had a hair-trigger temper that would erupt over the smallest thing - there was a water main break in town and all the traffic was being diverted, making me 5 minutes late for work. I called to inform him of this and was treated to a 20 minute lecture of epic proportions that continued when I arrived at the home. The lecture lasted so long he missed his train - which he then blamed on me. He had no respect for other people's time - he knew that I worked nights on Mondays and would have to leave immediately after work on those days. However, he chose to run personal errands, sometimes as insignificant as picking up an ice cream cone or renting a movie, on those evenings, usually arriving later then my hours allowed, making me late for my second position.
The worst part was that his two children were withdrawn, depressed, and severely neglected. They missed their mother but their father refused to discuss her except for when he was speaking in graphic, angry terms about the injustices their family had suffered. It truly was a tragedy that they lost their mom, but they were lost too! The father made it clear that I was to set boundaries and we discussed what these boundaries would be prior to my employment. However, any time a child was upset that they "could not get their way" they would use abusive language, threaten violence, and finally, call their father who would immediately reverse my decision, destroying any authority I had. The girl was severely overweight - from binge eating and lack of activity - and was permitted to gorge herself in front of the television for endless hours and the boy was a bed wetting, night terror experiencing nervous breakdown waiting to happen - and their father ignored it! When I FINALLY gave notice, he informed me that it "wasn't a good time" and attempted to force me to stay in an unhappy position. I made it perfectly clear that he had two weeks maximum to replace me - on my last day of work, I practically skipped out the door. It was AWFUL. Comment
20) I interviewed with 5 families that all seemed to want me to come and work for them. I was 22 and I chose the “famous” person for no other reason than they were famous. My bad. My first day I was to come down to the kitchen at 8 to start with breakfast. I did. The mother was downstairs making breakfast for the children. She took a phone call at which time two of the children jumped up on the table and started dancing. They were also singing ‘we are dancing on the table, we are dancing on the table, we are dancing on the table’. I gently tried to urge them down. They were not listening. The mother came in as I was attempting to physically take the 4 year old boy off the table. She shrieked at me “what are you doing?”. I explained and she said “what is that hurting?”. Lesson #1, dancing on the table while screaming at the top of your lungs is acceptable. The mother was home a lot of the time. At one point that week, I was outside in the back yard with the four year old. He announced to me that he was going to climb a certain tree. I suggested that was dangerous. He yelled at me and soon mother appeared on the deck, “what it is it” she asked. “X wants to climb the X tree” I say. She says, “That sounds like a wonderful idea. You may need to show him how to ‘shimmy up’ the trunk” she says. I look at her and say, “You want me to climb the tree”. She says, “Why yes honey, why do you think we hired an active and athletic young lady such as yourself. Then she looked at my worn tennis shoes and down at her own stiletto pumps and smiled. Her smile was very dismissive. I ended up hoisting him in to the tree, after many foolish attempts I proved unable to climb the tree myself. Famous Daddy was away a great deal but then at times home a great deal. On one day I was in the playroom with the 4 year old boy and 3 year old girl. The boy was refusing to share his village car set with the girl who wanted to play with him. I was on my knees with them and I started to explain to the little boy the merits of sharing with his sister. The father interrupted, “no.no. I have a cousin and she never shared her toys when she was younger and you know what? You know how successful she is today?” That was it. The sum total of his explanation. If lesson #19 was sharing is bad, lesson #20 was “discipline interferes with child development”. There were no time outs. There was no redirection, no loss of privileges. The mother in all her wisdom did suggest that what was important when I saw a child misbehaving was to understand how he was feeling. Child kicks me in the stomach, “X, how are you feeling”. As time went on, I realized that when properly handled by the mother in all her wisdom, this became more like, “I am sorry that I threw my spaghetti on the floor. I was thinking of war when I did it”. I was to say “it’s okay, I understand” as the mother stood by nodding. The mother also believed that childhood obesity was caused by parents trying to control their child’s eating or keep their child from certain foods. So there were no rules about food. The children ate when they were hungry. There were no set mealtimes. Nor were there any set required foods for a meal. When I started the mother did not have any sugar cereal in the house. The boy asked if he could have captain crunch with Crunchberries. The mom literally scooted off to buy the cereal a half hour later. Later when it was just her and I, she assured me that with her method, he would grow tired of the Crunchberries by day two. Of course 8 days later, he was having Crunchberries for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I quietly rolled my eyes. The mother, ever the optimist assured me of the nutritional density of the Crunchberries. I’ve known a lot of nannies who have had bad nanny jobs and bad nanny jobs are seldom the result of bad children. In this case, the children were being raised to be terrible human beings. They were destructive and the mother would call their ruin “creative”. She actually went and bought an 8x 10 frame, popped the glass out of it and hung it on a nail around this piece of wallpaper that the 4 year old had shredded to pieces. I stayed an entire year. The children were very rough to deal with but all in all, it was a very interesting experience!
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